North Carolina author Megan Miranda grew up avidly reading her mother’s mystery and thriller novels. That early immersion in the genre has paid off. Miranda’s books regularly appear on The New York Times bestseller list, each a stand-alone page-turner exploring the secrets we keep from each other.

Miranda’s latest book, The Only Survivors, focuses on a group of former high school seniors who reunite at an Outer Banks house on the tenth anniversary of a deadly bus crash. Their survivor’s guilt turns into suspicion of each other after one of the classmates disappears.

Megan Miranda lives in Davidson and will appear at the Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors this Saturday. WFDD’s Neal Charnoff recently spoke with Miranda via Zoom.

Interview highlights:

On plotting her mysteries:

"I actually do not have a plot in mind. Usually, when I start, I feel like if I know the setting, I know the characters, and I know the premise, like that kickoff event, I need to start and just throw myself into the story, because I feel like my books are very character-driven. And I don't really know what the story is going to be until I understand how my characters are interacting with one another and the world and how their pasts have influenced who they've become."

On why setting plays an important role in her books: 

"I think it's because setting itself can be such a strong character. And nature kind of has a mind of its own. But I write about places that I love. And I think the characters also love these places for reasons at the start. And I'm fascinated by the idea that any place can be the most beautiful place or the most terrifying place, and the only thing that changes is your main character's perspective. And I think when a character is afraid, everything takes on an element of fear."

On why she writes thrillers:

"I think the reason I was drawn to thrillers, because I have thought about this, in hindsight, is because you're taking that journey through, and you're making it through the other side with this character, and kind of coming face-to-face with your fears. And I think that is an arc that you see in my books — a character having to confront their fears, whether they are noises in the house, or whether they are things that they're terrified of people finding out about them at some point, these characters have to come face to face with it, and make it through the other side."

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